Move It: Senior Surge Helps Bring Gold to Garner

Garner is known as a toe-tapping place, from its annual Showcase of Talent to its hometown heroes, platinum recording artist Scotty McCreery and bluegrass great Lorraine Jordan.

All that music is just  fine by Teresa Patterson, who relocated to Garner from Pennsylvania when she retired, to be nearer her son. She also joined the G Squad, a seniors’ hip-hop dance troupe based at the Garner Senior Center.

“I love it in Garner,” Patterson said. “It’s a great community that’s really supported and accepted us. I understand how Scotty feels!”

This relocation-dance story also plays out for squad members Donna Seedorf from Rhode Island and Phyllis Krasinski from Connecticut. Even director Nancy Hulbert is a transplant from Boston.

The diverse backgrounds of the G Squad are one example of the area’s senior surge — the 55-plus crowd is North Carolina’s fastest growing demographic.

The Garner Senior Center also reflects that. Opened in 1990, it saw a $1.2 million upgrade by the town in 2006, including a new  fitness annex, and in 2009 was named a Center of Excellence by the N.C. Division of Aging and Adult Services.  The center now offers 150 classes and programs each month, to 2,500 registered participants ages “55 & better.”

“When I  rst started working for the Town of Garner in 2006, I helped out at the Raleigh-Wake Senior Games Silver Follies,” Hulbert said. “There wasn’t a representative from the Senior Center, and the show is held here, at the Garner Performing Arts Center. I felt we needed to rectify that.

The G Squad, based at Garner Senior Center, is a gold medal-winning, hiphop dance troupe for men and women ages “55 and better.” The Squad’s current dance number is “ET” by Katy Perry.

“I’d never led a performing dance company,” Hulbert said, “but I’ve been a certifed group  fitness instructor for over 30 years and have always loved teaching senior classes. You listen when they speak, and you learn.”

Gold Medal Squad

Known in 2009 as the Glamour Gals, the team won bronze at the Senior Games. The next year the Gals admitted a man, and became the G Squad. Dancing to Black Eyed Peas’ “Boom Boom Pow,” they won gold at both regional and state level Senior Games.

That smile is not just for the stage; G Squad members including Sheena Gregory say they love the teamwork, exercise and fun of performing.

In 2011, the G Squad took gold at the Raleigh-Wake Senior Games, dancing to Lady Gaga’s “Telephone,” and won the $500 grand prize in the  first Seniors Got Talent national online video contest.

This year, members who say they’re just “too cool” for old music, dance to “ET” by Katy Perry.  The dancers range from age 55 to mid-70s.

“The song has to have slow enough beats and not contain any words that could be offensive,” said choreographer Hulbert. “We keep in mind bad knees, and make sure we give them breathers during the routine.”

 The G squad rehearses twice weekly, including work on balance, endurance and core strength.

The G Squad rehearses twice a week at Garner Senior Center; director Nancy Hulbert chooses songs based on beat and language, keeping in mind “bad knees” and “breathers during the routine.”

“It’s good for your memory, for exercise and camaraderie,” Seedorf said.

“Every chance I get, I’m dancing,” added Pam Massey; she’s among the original G Squad members, and performs in a line dance group too.

“The best part is when little kids look at us like, ‘Yeah, right,’ then when we’re on stage they whoop and holler. It’s really a lot of fun,” said Patricia Hill, who is also working on her PhD.

“It’s really a lot of fun!” says dancer Patricia Hill, who’s also at work on her PhD.

“Our motto is that age is truly only a number,” Hulbert said. “They’re having a blast and it shows. People love them. I’ve heard many times, ‘You hear it announced that these old ladies are going to do hiphop and you chuckle. Then they begin and you’re like, ‘Dang, they are really dancing, and wow, they are awesome!’”

Current members of the G Squad are Elizabeth Batten, Olivia Bond, Sheena Gregory, Patricia Hill, Phyllis Krasinski, Pam Massey, Norma Montgomery, Teresa Patterson, Donna Scott and Donna Seedorf.

Relocation: Garner at a Glance

The 55-plus crowd is North Carolina’s fastest growing demographic. But retirees aren’t the only ones relocating: The Raleigh-Cary-Garner metro area saw a 42 percent increase in population from 2000 to 2010.

Here are a few 2011-2012 quality of life highlights that help attract people of all ages to Garner:

11: Number of parks in Garner; White Deer Park won 2011 Outstanding Project Grand Award from N.C. Forest Service.

Broadway Voices concert series won 2011 Arts and Humanities Award from N.C. Recreation and Parks Association.

It’s Showtime is a new-for-2012 series at Garner Performing Arts Center.

An interactive Veterans Memorial will open this fall at Lake Benson Park.

Garner Revitalization Association won two N.C. Main Street Awards in 2012.

Garner’s home ownership rate is 70 percent; includes 55-plus Village at Aversboro.

WakeMed will open a $20M emergency room and physicians’ offices in 2013.

Garner was named 2011 Outstanding Traffic Safe Community by AAA Carolinas.

Strategic Behavioral Health will open summer 2012, creating 250 jobs.

Drury Hotels Co. will open a $20M hotel in Garner in 2014.

Garner Economic Development Corp. at work on strategy to generate 400-plus jobs at I-40/U.S. 70.

New $9.4M Timber Drive Extension offers development options and improves U.S. 70 traffic flow.

Garner Police Dept. has launched new PAAL program to boost youth achievement.

Drew Cook of Garner Magnet High named Principal of the Year for Wake County.

AT&T North Carolina President Cynthia Marshall was guest speaker at Garner Chamber’s Women in Business Luncheon.





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